FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Time Lapse Shows California’s Stunning Diversity

September 15, 2014 

(via) This timelapse showcasing California was filmed over a four year period by Hal Bergman.

“California is the most populated state in the United States, and the third largest. It’s almost double the size of the United Kingdom and slightly larger than Japan. If it was it’s own independent country (as it was briefly for a few weeks in 1846), it would have the 8th largest economy in the world by GDP. It contains the highest summit and the lowest desert in the Contiguous United States (and the second-lowest point in the world), both of which are in the same county. It’s most known for movies, technology, wine, and national parks, but also grows more than a third of the vegetables consumed in the US, two-thirds of the fruits and nuts, and an unknown but presumably huge percentage of marijuana. It contains every major climatological biome except tundra. More important than those facts, to me, is that I was born and spent most of my life here.”

Locations include (in alphabetical order) Alabama Hills, Big Sur, Bombay Beach, Death Valley National Park, Gilroy, Inyo National Forest, Jenner, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Mono Lake South Tufa Reserve, Mount Shasta, Napa, Onyx, Owens Lake, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Monica, Sequoia National Forest, Venice, Weldon, and Yosemite National Park.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Cool Time Lapse Shows Ohio Amish Barn Raising

September 4, 2014 

This recent Ohio Amish barn-raising took a little over 10 hours to complete. The whole operation is condensed down to three and a half minutes in this time-lapse video. It’s a pretty astounding thing to watch, especially at the 2 minute mark, when all the hammers drop and the small army of hatted workmen disappear off-screen, presumably for lunch, only to reappear to finish the job.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #433 | Rush Hour In Taipei Is NOT Like It Is In Vancouver

In Taiwan’s Taipei City, the morning rush hour across Taipei Bridge appears to be as smoothly mesmerizing as it is unfathomably insane. If the calm is typical, it really puts the peak-time chaos of entering/exiting Vancouver into embarrassing perspective. It would be a fascinating thing to watch our many road/roid raging morning commuters try to merge with such a calm, purposeful throng. There would likely be casualties, so it’s for the best that our respective road systems don’t connect.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #432 | The Unbelievable Story Of India’s “Forest Man”

(via) Hats off to Toronto-based filmmaker William McMaster for sharing such an fascinating and inspiring story.

Since the 1970′s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis. Humble yet passionate and philosophical about his work. Payeng takes us on a journey into his incredible forest…

Payeng’s forest is now populated by a wide range of animals, among them deer, elephant, rhino, and tigers. Money quote: “There are no monsters in nature except for humans”.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #431 | Kama Sutra-Inspired Art Depicting Police Brutality


(via) These posters were designed by Brazilians Gabriel Morais, Renato Botelho and Bruno Pereira so they could raise awareness about police violence during peaceful street protests. Using the original sexual positions of the Kama Sutra as a guide, the images show demonstrators in the midst of being physically abused by police.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #430 | How To Make Sweet Tunes In A Foodie Paradise

(via) San Francisco musician Edgar Camago recorded sounds at several foodie magnets (Tartine, Craftsman & Wolves, Ritual, etc) in the city’s super tasty Mission District and incorporated them into a song dedicated to their deliciousness.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #429 | How To Make Good Hunting Blowpipes In Borneo

(via) “Only a few elders of Borneo’s Penan tribe still know how to make their unique hunting tool, the blowpipe. Balan is the last person in his village who practices the dying craft.”


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #428 | In The Congo, Making Soccer Balls From Trash

(via The New York Times): “As soon as I saw a photograph of an African soccer ball, stitched together from old rags in the geometric patterns so familiar to us, I wanted to tell its story. And so last July my filmmaking crew traveled to a village outside of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we shot this Op-Doc. Although the country did not qualify for the World Cup, people there – as in most of Africa – are mad about soccer. They play it everywhere. And because soccer balls like the ones common on American fields are a rarity in much of Africa, the sport is often played with homemade balls, like the one in this video.” – director Jerome Thélia.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #426 | New “Napkin Table” Tackles Picnic Blanket, Fails


(via) Michael Jan, an industrial design graduate from Taiwan’s Tunghai University, is getting a lot of attention for his “Napkin Table” innovation. It’s a shared bib that, when fastened around the necks of two inexplicably willing participants, creates a makeshift table and forces the wearers into rigid postures. We congratulate Jan on his surprising graduation, and wish his converts both a hearty bon appetit and a very persistent wasp who understands the concept of schadenfreude.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #425 | On Phobos & Deimos, The Two Martian Moons

“The Moons of Mars Explained — Phobos & Deimos” is a pretty self-explanatory short video about the past, present, and future of the two, potato-shaped (and ultimately doomed) moons of Mars. It was created by the science nerds at Munich-based Kurzgesagt.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #424 | What Venice Would Look Like With Frozen Canals


(via) Combining a mix of photographs with some serious editing savvy, photographer Robert Jahns created a convincing set of images depicting the city of Venice with its famous canals frozen solid. He posted one of the pictures to Twitter two months ago and it went viral (before being debunked as a fake two days later). Pliable ice sheets formed on the canals back in 2012 for the first time in two decades, but the picturesque waterways have never frozen completely solid, as imagined so invitingly (for skating) above.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #423 | On Old Bombs And Shaking Hands Like A Goof


Monsieur, you’re totally doing it wrong: The President of France, François Hollande, needs a remedial course in shaking world leaders’ hands.

Enjoy the sunny day in Vancouver and be glad that we aren’t in Chicago, New York, Boston, or anywhere else in the wintry wrath path of the storm the Weather Channel is now calling Hercules. Side bonus: the ice and snow and low visibility makes Niagara Falls look much cooler. Side side bonus: ditto the cover of The New Yorker. Side side side bonus: these snow-shovelling nipples.

New film asks if backpackers are destroying the world (trailer).

We’ve always liked Kentucky, but it’s about to get even better: “On February 4, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will debate Ken Ham, Creation Museum founder and Answers In Genesis president/CEO, at The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.” Advantage: Nye.

World War II is still killing people in Germany.

The first day of retail marijuana sales in the state of Colorado – where the use/sale of recreational weed is now legal – exceeded $1 million. You don’t say!

The origins story of Carl Sagan’s awesome humanity communications plaque on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, which was the first ever man-made object to leave the solar system.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #422 | New Unpublished Stories By JD Salinger Leaked

November 28, 2013 


A few weeks ago I watched a fascinating documentary about the reclusive American writer, J.D. Salinger (he of The Catcher In The Rye fame). The very end of the film was a shocker for me (watch the trailer above), because it came with the revelation that Salinger, who died in 2010, had never stopped writing (even though he hadn’t published a work since 1965), and that he had left instructions for five hitherto unknown new books of his to be released between 2015 and 2020. These include a World War II novel (Salinger was a veteran) and a sequel to The Catcher In The Rye.

As we await those diamonds to drop, there are other infamous Salinger works that have been known to exist but have stayed unpublished. Several of these have long been in possession of the Princeton Library, with Salinger stipulating that they couldn’t be published until 50 years after his death.

Which brings us to today’s shocking news. The library’s security was just breached and a manuscript – Three Stories – has been leaked to an invite-only file-sharing site. It has since found its way to the public net and pirated “first edition” copies are already being uploaded to eBay. Read it and weep.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #421 | On Pepper Spraying To Collect A Pay Cheque

October 25, 2013 


It was nearly two years ago when UC Davis policeman Lt. John Pike calmly walked down a line of prone, peacefully protesting students and pepper sprayed each one of them in the face like he was refreshing so many hydrangeas on a Sunday morning. Well, he’s just received over $38,000 in worker’s compensation for the suffering that followed his actions (the poor dear received a lot of angry emails). The protestors settled their lawsuit against the university for a $1 million. After paying off their lawyers, each of them received $30,000, less than the “traumatized” Pike. Go justice!


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